During the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be challenging to maintain the bonds of brotherhood that we share as Arrowmen as a result of widespread health restrictions for in-person programming. Many chapters, lodges and sections have adapted to the new situation by hosting virtual meetings and other activities. This newly-created guide provides best practices for virtual programming compiled from local chapters and lodges nationwide.
Together, we will inspire all existing members to become active Arrowmen through regular virtual and/or in-person events as one of three laser-focused objectives as we navigate this new normal.
Some of the programming listed in this guide includes communication between Arrowmen. All events should be held in accordance with Youth Protection guidelines and the Guide to Safe Scouting.
To access the guide, visit oa-bsa.org/resources/publications#online-engagement-toolkit.
This video contains a brief summary of the Order of the Arrow and its programs as well as an explanation of the election procedures. We’ve recently re-filmed the video to accurately reflect the recent membership updates.
For questions related to the video usage, please email @email.
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus brought with it national and global implications. At home and abroad, industries have been undertaking intensive measures to mitigate the spread of the virus, including ceasing operation. Naturally, the Scouting community has been impacted by this as well. The Order of the Arrow has been no exception. Across the country, events spanning from lodge to national scales in magnitude have been cancelled and/or postponed to keep Arrowmen safe. That being said, the spirit of innovation has shown itself once again within the OA, with lodges throughout the country adapting to the circumstances in these challenging times. This has materialized in a variety of ways, including the adoption of Zoom and other services for remote communication, the use of social media to engage and connect Arrowmen, and the creation of lodge resources to guide in the successful transition to online functions.
The use of Zoom, an online conferencing platform, has increased dramatically in schools, businesses, and of course, Scouting. As lodge functions transition to online, strategies are being implemented to not only engage active Arrowmen, but to also welcome in potential candidates. On March 25, the OA approved lodges to hold virtual unit elections, which can be located here, and lodges have been quick at adapting to these new possibilities. In Kansas, the Tamegonit Lodge hosted their first virtual unit election, electing seven brand new ordeal candidates who will soon begin their path of cheerful service. This demonstrates that although mitigation measures may be preventing in-person elections from occurring, the OA still has the potential to grow and welcome new members. For those who are currently members, lodges have also been devising strategies to connect Arrowmen in an online setting. Orca Lodge in California held their first of many game nights via Zoom, playing a variety of online games and providing much needed fellowship for Arrowmen separated by distance. While these examples demonstrate successful initiatives using online conferencing, social media platforms have once again proved beneficial in providing unique ways of engaging Arrowmen in these trying times.
Lodges have consistently employed social media as a tool for outreach and sharing information. With the transition to virtual operations, lodges have found creative ways of utilizing various platforms beyond traditional use. Nampa-Tsi Lodge in Missouri, for example, has exemplified certain innovative practices. In early April, the Lodge held a live Fortnite tournament, using the popular online battle royale game, with a cash prize for the winner. Open to youth Arrowmen throughout the country, this demonstrated the possibilities of engaging Arrowmen not just in a single lodge, but across the country as well. The Lodge will be holding a similar function at the end of April, this time being their first ever online Jeopardy competition. Similarly, Nampa-Tsi has joined other lodges, including Ittawamba Lodge from Western Tennessee, in hosting Facebook Live events for lodge members. Simple yet effective, Ittawamba in particular held a livestream hosted by their Lodge Chief, providing the over 200 hundred who viewed it a much needed chance to simply interact with each other virtually. Finally, both in and out of Scouting, Instagram Bingo has been materializing, with lodges - including some sections - creating virtual Bingo cards with a variety of activities for Arrowmen to tick off if they’ve done them, and then pass along to their friends. Lodges such as Tuku’ut and Amangi Nacha in California have also created Bingo cards, including card tiles such as “Danced at a Lodge event”, “Served as an Elangomat” and “Forgot your sash”. This novel method of utilizing social media platforms demonstrates the plethora of unique options available in keeping the OA an active part of Arrowmen’s lives.
To assist with the transition to online Scouting, some lodges have created resources and guides for unit elections and other virtual functions. Recently, California’s Malibu Lodge created a document detailing guidance for holding virtual chapter meetings. This comprehensive guide they created features everything from how to host a Zoom call, various online games a lodge or chapter can play, to recent publications from the BSA and the OA. Some of the activities outlined in the guide include holding Netflix parties for your lodge, playing an online drawing game, and conducting a virtual scavenger hunt. Similarly, Madockawanda Lodge up in Maine created an informational video with resources for conducting online unit elections. Key elements include an email template for unit leaders, a form for the election ballot, and guidance for coordinating and conducting the actual elections. While this resource in particular is directed for usage in Madockawanda Lodge, it can certainly serve as a model for other lodges and chapters to utilize to their benefit.
Providing guides and information on how to best adapt to this new situation can not only support one’s own lodge, but also prove to be an asset for other lodges to take advantage of and generate successful practices across the country. Innovation, however, has not been limited to just the lodge level. Not only have unit elections and fellowships been moved online, but virtual section conclaves have been emerging as well. While most spring conclaves have been postponed or cancelled, Section C-5B decided to adapt to the circumstances and in mid April, held the section's first ever virtual conclave - The Tornado Alley Rally. This online event featured all the aspects of a normal conclave, including shows, leadership training, and national and region chief addresses. Beyond the section, the regions have also been engaging the lodges within their boundaries, with the Central and Northeast Regions initiating social media spirit weeks. These spirit weeks challenge Arrowmen to show off their Scouting pride with a diverse set of themes pertaining to NOAC and other OA functions. It is clear that innovation is seen throughout all levels of the Order of the Arrow. When lodges, sections, and regions step up to the challenge of providing a meaningful and successful program, the numerous capabilities of the OA can shine through. These innovations truly attest to our collective ability to adapt to challenging circumstances and continue to thrive in and out of our lodges.
In 1969, the Order of the Arrow established the E. Urner Goodman Camping Award as a tribute and memorial to the founder of our Order. Its purpose is to encourage and challenge Order of the Arrow members and lodges to improve their effectiveness in promoting and supporting Scout camping in their councils. Each year, two lodges in each region are recognized with the award. In its 51-year history, the E. Urner Goodman Camping Award, which is the Order’s oldest national lodge award, has been presented to 233 different lodges.
Unali’Yi Lodge of the Coastal Carolina Council is one of the eight lodges being presented the award for their accomplishments in 2019. Located in Charleston, South Carolina, the lodge’s largest service project was carrying out their Cub Haunted event last October. The event, which included 94 Arrowmen among its staff, involved carnival events, shooting sports, crafts, a haunted house, hayride, and a haunted trail. During the event, the Lodge raised $14,500 to support their council’s program budget. Although this year’s Cub Haunted event was the largest, the lodge has supported this event for years, and many of its Lodge Executive Committee members were past Cub Scouts who attended the event and are now excited to give back to the Cub Scout and Scouts B.S.A. programs.
Another of Unali’Yi’s successful camping promotion efforts was their annual winter camp program at Camp Ho Non Wah. One of their efforts was an ambassador program, in which the lodge sent promotional materials to unit leaders across their council. Each letter included wooden nickels and promotional cards, which unit leaders could share with others when camping away from their home camp. The promotional cards alone resulted in 18 new contacts for information about summer camp, winter camp, and year-round camping opportunities. In addition, the lodge provided 98% of the volunteer staff for the winter camp program, which had 442 campers, leaders, and staff in attendance.
The following lodges are being recognized with the E. Urner Goodman Camping Award for their accomplishments in 2019.
Dzie-Hauk Tonga Lodge
Jayhawk Area Council #197
Lowaneu Allanque Lodge
Three Fires Council #127
St. Charles, Illinois
Northern New Jersey Council #333
Oakland, New Jersey
Daniel Webster Council #330
Manchester, New Hampshire
Virginia Headwaters Council #763
Coastal Carolina Council #550
Charleston, South Carolina
California Inland Empire Council #45
Greater Los Angeles Area Council #33
Los Angeles, California
For many Arrowmen, the Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in canceled Scouting events and staying at home. For United States Navy Captain John Rotruck, his Coronavirus pandemic experience has been quite the opposite. He has led a team of doctors and medical professionals aboard the USNS Mercy to the frontlines of the pandemic. The Mercy is stationed in the Los Angeles harbor providing medical treatment to non-COVID-19 patients.
When not deployed for pandemic response, the USNS Mercy has participated in humanitarian aid partnerships across the Pacific Ocean. The San Diego-based ship provided medical treatment to tsunami victims in South East Asia in 2004 and has since visited countries throughout the region. The USNS Mercy is one of two floating hospitals maintained by the US Navy. Weighing over 65,000 tons and measuring 894 feet long, the two ships are the third-longest type of vessel in the Navy fleet surpassed only by our nation’s aircraft carriers. The onboard hospital is equipped with 1,000 hospital beds, eleven operating rooms and 80 intensive care beds. Captain Rotruck is the commanding officer for the hospital unit.
Rotruck is an Eagle Scout and a member of the Order of the Arrow. He earned his Eagle Scout award in 1987 as a member of the BSA’s Central Florida Council. John was inducted into the OA one year prior in November 1986 and his involvement in the Order has included serving as a section chief and NOAC conference vice chief. As an adult, he has served on the national committee and now works as a key volunteer.
When asked how being a member of the OA has impacted him, Capt Rotruck referenced planning a conclave and running the council of chiefs as great experiences. “Those early lessons in governing and group directing have transitioned to a much larger scale.” He explained, “I continue to manage the same group dynamics but in a different way.” Captain Rotruck offered an important message about Scouting and applying our ideals to the global pandemic. “This pandemic is facing the entire world. We need to band together to get through it. The OA specifically teaches us about brotherhood,” he said. “It is amazing to see youth and adults come together to interact with each other [in Scouting]. If we expand that to the world, we would be in a much better place.”
Mike Hoffman, Chairman of the National Order of the Arrow Committee, also reflected on Rotruck’s service as a youth translating to today’s events: “John’s leadership as a youth in the Order of the Arrow as a lodge and section officer clearly paved the way for his command of the Mercy.” Ray Capp, former national Chairman, described John as “a terrific human being.” Service to one another is a key theme within the OA. Rotruck lives by this daily helping and leading others onboard USNS Mercy. Before his current position, Rotruck served as Chief of Staff at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He was commissioned in the Navy Medical Corps in 1996 and has served twenty-four years as a physician.
When asked his favorite OA memory, Captain Rotruck put others before himself. “The OA as an organization focuses on service to others. One of my highlights was when Jason Wolz was recognized with the Distinguished Service Award. He was a section chief as well who did an amazing job.” Rotruck’s contributions to the OA have included work on the national inductions guide and serving on induction staff at NOACs. When asked which ceremonial principle he best relates to, he answered “Meteu. The principle is contemplated and perspective. He spends time listening.” He continued, “I like to pull in the material and relevant information and make sure everyone around me is heard. I certainly want everyone to have a chance.”
In closing, Capt Rotruck provided Arrowmen a special message as they adapted during the pandemic: “Take care of each other. Take care of family, friends and yourself. If you live by the principle of love one another, everything else will fall into place.” He also offered to Los Angeles residents, where the hospital ship is deployed and providing treatment, that ”[the USNS Mercy represents] the power of NAVY medicine on behalf of our country.”